SAFA
  • Seinäjoki Main Library Apila

  • Museum of the History of Polish Jews

  • Helsinki University Main Library (Kaisa House)

  • Gösta Serlachius Museum, Gösta’s Pavilion

Seinäjoki Main Library Apila

The extension of the Seinäjoki Public Library and Provincial Library, Apila (’Clover’), was opened to the public in August 2012. The library building is located adjacent to the cultural and administrative centre designed by Alvar Aalto. The new part of the building is linked via an underground passage to the old library building, designed by Alvar Aalto in 1965. The project is based on a winning entry in an invited competition held in 2008.


  • Architectural design: JKMM Architects
  • Client: City of Seinäjoki
  • Main contractor: Rakennusliike Timo Nyyssölä
  • City: Seinäjoki, Finland
  • Scope: 4,430 sq m
  • Year of completion: 2012

Statement of the pre-selection jury

The library sits freely as a complement to the cultural and administrative centre. The idea for the design was discovered in the 2008 invited competition, the winner of which was an entry by JKMM Architects entitled ”Apila” (”Clover”).

The placement of a new building within a complete architectural whole, created by Aalto, constitutes a very demanding design brief. The new part, with its copper exterior, enters into a dialogue with its prestigious environment. The building has its own identity – it makes no attempt to disguise itself as Aalto architecture. In terms of massing, the large building is divided into three parts, allowing it to match the scale of Aalto’s buildings. This creates an unbroken continuum between the library and the cultural and administrative centre.

The main spaces of the library – the ”news area” with the entrance, and the adult lending department – offer fantastic views towards the cultural and administrative centre. This allows the prestigious environment to become part of the interior, keeping the dialogue alive. The groups of spaces are stepped downwards from the entrance level towards the adult lending department, and from there, via the ”reading steps”, towards the youth department, and from there, via a connecting passage, to Aalto’s library. The selected space plan enables flexible modifications and allows for new uses that may emerge. The building functions in a natural and straightforward way.

The library has been carefully designed, down to the last detail. The concrete ceiling gives the interior an original look. The shingle-like copper surface adds personality to the facade. The visual art by the artist Aimo Katajamäki also integrates into the architectural whole in a seamless and straightforward manner. A design approach like this – ”from the whole to the smallest detail” – carries on the best of the Aalto tradition, even if the architecture consciously asserts itself as being from the 2010s.

The library building and its environment constitute a piece of architecture that brings joy. Architecture can, at the same time, both have local roots and reach an international dimension. Timelessness can be achieved through originality.

Statement of the pre-selection jury

The library sits freely as a complement to the cultural and administrative centre. The idea for the design was discovered in the 2008 invited competition, the winner of which was an entry by JKMM Architects entitled ”Apila” (”Clover”).

The placement of a new building within a complete architectural whole, created by Aalto, constitutes a very demanding design brief. The new part, with its copper exterior, enters into a dialogue with its prestigious environment. The building has its own identity – it makes no attempt to disguise itself as Aalto architecture. In terms of massing, the large building is divided into three parts, allowing it to match the scale of Aalto’s buildings. This creates an unbroken continuum between the library and the cultural and administrative centre.

The main spaces of the library – the ”news area” with the entrance, and the adult lending department – offer fantastic views towards the cultural and administrative centre. This allows the prestigious environment to become part of the interior, keeping the dialogue alive. The groups of spaces are stepped downwards from the entrance level towards the adult lending department, and from there, via the ”reading steps”, towards the youth department, and from there, via a connecting passage, to Aalto’s library. The selected space plan enables flexible modifications and allows for new uses that may emerge. The building functions in a natural and straightforward way.

The library has been carefully designed, down to the last detail. The concrete ceiling gives the interior an original look. The shingle-like copper surface adds personality to the facade. The visual art by the artist Aimo Katajamäki also integrates into the architectural whole in a seamless and straightforward manner. A design approach like this – ”from the whole to the smallest detail” – carries on the best of the Aalto tradition, even if the architecture consciously asserts itself as being from the 2010s.

The library building and its environment constitute a piece of architecture that brings joy. Architecture can, at the same time, both have local roots and reach an international dimension. Timelessness can be achieved through originality.

Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Winner of the Finlandia Prize for Architecture 2014

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw opened its doors to the public in spring 2013. The core exhibition of the museum, which illustrates the thousand-year history of Polish Jews, is planned to open in autumn 2014. The museum is located in the very heart of Jewish Warsaw, which the Nazis turned into the Warsaw ghetto during the Second World War. The controversial location required special discretion from the architects.


  • Architectural design: Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects, local collaborator Kurylowicz & Associates
  • Client: The city of Warsaw, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland
  • Main contractor: Polimex – Mostosal SA
  • City: Warsaw, Poland
  • Scope: 18,300 sq m
  • Year of completion: 2013

Statement of the pre-selection jury

In the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, symbolism is embodied in the architecture without unnecessary rhetoric. The restrained exterior of the building respects the history of the site in the heart of the wartime Warsaw ghetto, providing a reverential frame for the exhibition on the history of the Polish Jews, still under construction. The building is paired with the adjacent Monument of the Ghetto Heroes, proving that architecture is capable of empathy.

The free-form main hall is a contrast to the restrained exterior, symbolically leading the visitor towards the future. The free geometry of the main hall was inspired by the Hebrew expression “yum suf”, which refers to the gorge of the Red Sea during Exodus. The organic formal language of the load-bearing walls of the main hall was an extreme challenge for both design and construction, successfully tackled without compromise. The outcome, combining the best international expertise in steel and concrete construction, also brings together the traditions of prefabrication and handicrafts. The stone in the polished concrete surfaces of the interior is local limestone sand, which tones the atmosphere of the single-material cavernous interior from concrete grey into warm light.

Based on a winning entry in the international architectural competition in 2005, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews continues the series of buildings designed by Finns outside Finland, and manages to update the tradition in an impressive way. The building is a Song of Songs of Finnish excellence, carried out as a result of international cooperation. The high standards and the extensive scope of the project have required exceptional management skills and an uncompromising respect for the original vision. The outcome conveys a universal experience, regardless of ethnicity or creed.

MEMBERS OF THE TEAM

The competition period
Head designer Rainer Mahlamäki and Ilmari Lahdelma
Other team: Miguel Silva, Jukka Savolainen, Risto Wikberg, Jenni Hölttä, Hanna Suomi, Jesperi Vara, Riitta Id, Petri Saarelainen, Katri Rönkä

The implementation period in Finland
Head designer Rainer Mahlamäki
Project architect Riitta Id (–11/2007)
Project architect Maritta Kukkonen (12/2007–)
Other team: Jukka Savolainen, Miguel Silva, Markus Wikar, Mirja Sillanpää, Eva Haggrén, Juhana Marttinen, Taina Silmujärvi, Risto Wikberg, Katri Rönkä, Leila Hyttinen, Maria Jokela, Tarja Suvisto, Marjo Korolainen

The implementation period in Poland / Kurylowicz & Associates
Stefan Kurylowicz (–2011), Ewa Kurylowicz (2011–), project architect Pawel Grdozicki (–08/09), project architect Marcin Ferenc (07/09–), Tomasz Kopec, Michal Gratkowski

Statement of the pre-selection jury

In the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, symbolism is embodied in the architecture without unnecessary rhetoric. The restrained exterior of the building respects the history of the site in the heart of the wartime Warsaw ghetto, providing a reverential frame for the exhibition on the history of the Polish Jews, still under construction. The building is paired with the adjacent Monument of the Ghetto Heroes, proving that architecture is capable of empathy.

The free-form main hall is a contrast to the restrained exterior, symbolically leading the visitor towards the future. The free geometry of the main hall was inspired by the Hebrew expression “yum suf”, which refers to the gorge of the Red Sea during Exodus. The organic formal language of the load-bearing walls of the main hall was an extreme challenge for both design and construction, successfully tackled without compromise. The outcome, combining the best international expertise in steel and concrete construction, also brings together the traditions of prefabrication and handicrafts. The stone in the polished concrete surfaces of the interior is local limestone sand, which tones the atmosphere of the single-material cavernous interior from concrete grey into warm light.

Based on a winning entry in the international architectural competition in 2005, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews continues the series of buildings designed by Finns outside Finland, and manages to update the tradition in an impressive way. The building is a Song of Songs of Finnish excellence, carried out as a result of international cooperation. The high standards and the extensive scope of the project have required exceptional management skills and an uncompromising respect for the original vision. The outcome conveys a universal experience, regardless of ethnicity or creed.

MEMBERS OF THE TEAM

The competition period
Head designer Rainer Mahlamäki and Ilmari Lahdelma
Other team: Miguel Silva, Jukka Savolainen, Risto Wikberg, Jenni Hölttä, Hanna Suomi, Jesperi Vara, Riitta Id, Petri Saarelainen, Katri Rönkä

The implementation period in Finland
Head designer Rainer Mahlamäki
Project architect Riitta Id (–11/2007)
Project architect Maritta Kukkonen (12/2007–)
Other team: Jukka Savolainen, Miguel Silva, Markus Wikar, Mirja Sillanpää, Eva Haggrén, Juhana Marttinen, Taina Silmujärvi, Risto Wikberg, Katri Rönkä, Leila Hyttinen, Maria Jokela, Tarja Suvisto, Marjo Korolainen

The implementation period in Poland / Kurylowicz & Associates
Stefan Kurylowicz (–2011), Ewa Kurylowicz (2011–), project architect Pawel Grdozicki (–08/09), project architect Marcin Ferenc (07/09–), Tomasz Kopec, Michal Gratkowski

Helsinki University Main Library (Kaisa House)

Kaisa House is the main library of the University of Helsinki, housing the collections of the humanities, law, theology, and political science. The library was opened to the public in September 2012, as part of the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012. The project is based on a winning entry in an invited competition in 2008.


  • Architectural design: Anttinen Oiva Architects
  • Client: University of Helsinki
  • Main contractor: SRV
  • City: Helsinki, Finland
  • Scope: 30,200 sq m
  • Year of completion: 2012

Statement of the pre-selection jury

Kaisa House, the main library of the University of Helsinki, both serves as a signature building and continues the existing urban block structure. Similar historic buildings can be found close by in the same neighbourhood, although they are rare, as, today, large new public buildings are often sited on less built-up plots, even in the city centre. Kaisa House succeeds superbly in this difficult task. The building has surprisingly quickly taken root as part of the urban structure.

In addition to its dual role in the cityscape, Kaisa House is at the same time a redevelopment and renovation project. The structures of a department store that used to occupy the site have, for the most part, been reused. The new building and its activities are naturally positioned in the existing frame. Kaisa House is an extremely large building, and partly built underground. Despite its large size, the library building has been successfully adapted as part of the dense cityscape.

The building’s exceptionally grand entrance is under large brick arches. The same design motif is repeated, in a natural manner, in the central space of the library building, in which narrow curved openings form an impressive and unpredictable series of spaces in what is fundamentally a rectangular building. The large openings in the facade are skilfully positioned and directed. They produce fantastic places for relaxation in the middle of the busiest spot in the city.

Statement of the pre-selection jury

Kaisa House, the main library of the University of Helsinki, both serves as a signature building and continues the existing urban block structure. Similar historic buildings can be found close by in the same neighbourhood, although they are rare, as, today, large new public buildings are often sited on less built-up plots, even in the city centre. Kaisa House succeeds superbly in this difficult task. The building has surprisingly quickly taken root as part of the urban structure.

In addition to its dual role in the cityscape, Kaisa House is at the same time a redevelopment and renovation project. The structures of a department store that used to occupy the site have, for the most part, been reused. The new building and its activities are naturally positioned in the existing frame. Kaisa House is an extremely large building, and partly built underground. Despite its large size, the library building has been successfully adapted as part of the dense cityscape.

The building’s exceptionally grand entrance is under large brick arches. The same design motif is repeated, in a natural manner, in the central space of the library building, in which narrow curved openings form an impressive and unpredictable series of spaces in what is fundamentally a rectangular building. The large openings in the facade are skilfully positioned and directed. They produce fantastic places for relaxation in the middle of the busiest spot in the city.

Gösta Serlachius Museum, Gösta’s Pavilion

The Serlachius museums Gösta and Gustaf in Mänttä provide a meeting place for friends of high-quality art and good stories. The art museum Gösta showcases several temporary exhibitions every year, including highlights from the collections of the Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation, one of the largest Nordic collections. The museum’s extension, Gösta’s Pavilion, was opened in the summer of 2014.


  • Architectural design: MX_SI architectural studio, local collaborator Huttunen-Lipasti-Pakkanen Architects
  • Client: Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation
  • Main contractor: Jämsän Kone- ja Rakennuspalvelu
  • City: Mänttä, Finland
  • Scope: 5,700 sq m
  • Year of completion: 2014

Statement of the pre-selection jury

The museum is a highly original building boasting multi-faceted architecture. The new Gösta is considerably larger than the adjacent old museum, Joenniemi manor. The architects have managed to construct a functional museum complex based on a difficult starting point. The old and the new create a unique, memorable milieu, together with the garden, which opens towards the lake. The project is based on a winning entry in an open architectural competition arranged in 2011.

Gösta’s Pavilion is multi-functional and shows clarity. The treatment of form and space is subtle. With Gösta’s Pavilion, the Barcelona architects introduce a fresh, new spirit to Finnish architecture. The international dimension of art is, thus, positively displayed in the architecture.

In addition to the international dimension, Gösta continues the tradition of Finnish wood construction. Gösta is a milestone in the renaissance of wood construction in the 2000s. Its architecture reforms tradition and manifests the possibilities of using wood. In the big picture of Finnish architecture, Gösta is an engaging combination of internationalism, tradition and emerging design.

As an important public building, Gösta reinforces the public image of Mänttä. At its best, architecture can contribute to the identity of an entire city.

Statement of the pre-selection jury

The museum is a highly original building boasting multi-faceted architecture. The new Gösta is considerably larger than the adjacent old museum, Joenniemi manor. The architects have managed to construct a functional museum complex based on a difficult starting point. The old and the new create a unique, memorable milieu, together with the garden, which opens towards the lake. The project is based on a winning entry in an open architectural competition arranged in 2011.

Gösta’s Pavilion is multi-functional and shows clarity. The treatment of form and space is subtle. With Gösta’s Pavilion, the Barcelona architects introduce a fresh, new spirit to Finnish architecture. The international dimension of art is, thus, positively displayed in the architecture.

In addition to the international dimension, Gösta continues the tradition of Finnish wood construction. Gösta is a milestone in the renaissance of wood construction in the 2000s. Its architecture reforms tradition and manifests the possibilities of using wood. In the big picture of Finnish architecture, Gösta is an engaging combination of internationalism, tradition and emerging design.

As an important public building, Gösta reinforces the public image of Mänttä. At its best, architecture can contribute to the identity of an entire city.